How to Sell a House with Code Violations? Review Your Options

| Updated on April 1, 2024
Selling a House

If your house currently has any code violations issued by your local government agency, it can complicate the selling process. Code violations indicate that something about the property is not up to the minimum safety or quality standards as per the building codes in your city or county. As a seller, you will need to resolve these violations before selling to avoid penalties and ensure you get the best price for your property.


Discuss with the Code Enforcement Office

The first step is to get in touch with your local code enforcement office to understand the exact violations in detail. Meet with them, if possible, to review the violations and determine the steps needed to resolve them. Code enforcement software and documents should have all the details on file about the notices issued for your property. Ask as many questions as needed to gain clarity on what needs to be done. It may help to get the solutions in writing to avoid confusion. Take the time to understand thoroughly the code requirements and ensure any repairs meet or exceed expectations. The last thing you want is to do work that does not adequately address the violations.

Evaluate Severity AND Resolution Options

Not all code violations are equally severe. Some may just require minor repairs or modifications to resolve, while others can be more significant and expensive to fix. As the seller, evaluate each violation and potential solutions based on the following:

  • Severity: Minor issues like exterior paint peeling or a cracked window pane are easier to fix compared to major structural damage or plumbing/electrical problems.
  • Cost to resolve: The cost to fix the violations will depend on the level of work required. Get estimates from contractors for any necessary repairs or renovations. Be sure to factor in the time involved for any complex repairs that could disrupt the sales process. More serious issues may require permits, contractors, and inspections by officials before being resolved fully.
  • Timeline to resolve: See how long it will take to fix each issue before you plan to close on the sale of the house. Some may require permits and re-inspection which can take weeks or months. Have realistic timelines for any work required to avoid delays in closing on a sale.

Discuss Options with Your Real Estate Agent

Meet with your real estate agent to review the code violations and determine the best options based on your timeline to sell the property. Some options to consider include:

  • Fix All Violations Before Listing: This ensures the violations are resolved fully and the property is up to code before buyers view it. However, it may delay the selling process and you incur costs upfront before the sale.
  • Negotiate With Buyers: You can choose to sell “as-is” but disclose the violations to any interested buyers. They may agree to handle the fixes themselves with a lower offer price. But the violations may limit interest from some buyers.
  • Discount Sale Price: If the violations are minor, you can ask for a lower sale price to account for the additional costs to resolve them. The buyers will still need to fix the issues but get a better deal. The risk is still turning off some buyers by disclosing the violations.

Obtain Permits and Schedule Re-Inspections

For any significant repair work required to resolve violations, make sure proper permits are obtained from the code enforcement agency before starting work. Once repairs are completed, call for re-inspections to verify all issues have been fixed properly. Get final approvals in documented writing to provide to buyers as evidence the property now meets code requirements.

With the code issues now resolved, you can move ahead confidently with lining up a qualified buyer for your home! Be prepared to provide permits and re-inspection reports to show the necessary repairs were done, and that any code violations have been cleared. While the process may be time-consuming, ensuring any code issues are addressed will help prevent future problems with the sale of your property. With paperwork in hand to prove your home meets regulations, potential buyers can now consider the house based solely on the merits of the property itself.

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